David Pecker, the controversial CEO of American Media who helped Trump funnel hush money to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, will no longer lead the company

  • David Pecker is out as CEO of American Media Inc. as part of a merger announced in a press release Friday.
  • Pecker, a longtime friend of Trump, was previously the publisher of the National Enquirer, which funneled hush money to two women who alleged the president had affairs with them.
  • AMI and the National Enquirer have long histories of promoting Trump or attacking his opponents, and The Washington Post reported that executives and editors sent Trump copies of issues before they were published.
  • Questions have also emerged about whether Pecker received dirt on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos from the Saudis after they hacked his phone in 2018, several months before the National Enquirer exposed Bezos' affair by publishing his private messages.
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David Pecker, the controversial CEO of American Media Inc., will no longer lead the company as it merges with wholesale distribution company Accelerate, according to a press release Friday.

AMI will be renamed A360 Media as a result of the consolidation and will be led by Accelerate CEO David Parry, while Pecker will stay on as an executive advisor to the new company, according to the release.

Pecker gained notoriety while running AMI, which published the National Enquirer until April of last year, where he was involved in several major scandals.

Most notably, Pecker helped then-presidential candidate Donald Trump funnel $150,000 in hush money in 2016 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, both of whom had claimed that Trump had affairs with them. AMI admitted to working with Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to buy the rights to the women's stories and then never publishing them in an attempt to protect Trump's chances of winning the election.

Questions have also surrounded Pecker's potential connection to the Saudis hacking of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' phone.

In early 2019, the National Enquirer exposed Bezos' affair with Lauren Sanchez (now allegedly his fiancée) by publishing private messages between the two. In January, multiple reports found that Bezos' phone was hacked in 2018 after receiving malware from Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

While the National Enquirer claimed it had obtained Bezos' messages with Sanchez from her brother and Hollywood talent agent Michael Sanchez, he denied being the source and sued AMI for defamation in April, alleging that the messages came from the Saudi hack.

Both the National Enquirer and its former parent, AMI, have a long history under Pecker's leadership of running favorable stories about Trump, whom Pecker was close with for decades, having worked with Trump and regularly visited Mar-a-Lago and flown his private planes since the 1990s.

During the 2016 presidential election, AMI publications published multiple negative stories about Trump's main competitors: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during the primary race and then former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The National Enquirer published a conspiracy theory that Cruz's father killed JFK, while some of the stories about Clinton pushed theories that her health was in dramatic decline. The Washington Post also reported that AMI executives and editors sent Trump and Cohen digital copies of issues before they were published in print.

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